Busia County government challenged to put in place measures to protect the girl-child
Girl child empowerment and protection dominated the speeches of all speakers in Busia County as they joined the rest of the world on October 11 to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child.
The objective of the day that is commemorated annually since 2011 is to highlight the needs and challenges faced by the girl child faces while promoting girls’ empowerment and fulfilment of their human right. It highlights issues of gender inequality facing young girls such as child marriage.
Following recent revelations that Busia County leads countrywide in cases of child defilement and teenage pregnancies, members of the County Assembly have come out gun blazing to pass a bill that will protect the girl child and the future of the county.
Addressing the audience, Nambale Township Member of County Assembly Mwajuma Toloyi noted that empowered girls are key to breaking the cycle of poverty for families in the county and around the world.
Toloyi reiterated that empowered and educated girls have healthier, better educated children and higher wages factors that help in breaking the cycle of poverty not only within their families but for the entire community.
Said Toloyi: “Most teenage pregnancies witnessed in the county are due to lack of knowledge as many girls fall prey to child predators who entice them with money.” She added: “Since they are so naïve and surrounded with poverty, they get carried away and in return are compelled to have sex as a form of payment.”
Urged Toloyi: “I appeal to our Governor and other leaders to come out jointly and build more schools to relieve our children of having to long distances.”
She said: “It’s because of the distance that some fall prey to boda boda operators who offer to give them a ride in return for sex. With enough school available and at a close distance, our children will be saved.”
The 2017 Kenyan theme for the International Day of the Girl Child was The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.
The event in Busia County centred around promoting equal treatment and opportunities for girls to get around the stonewalls they run into every day.
The event marked the beginning of a year-long effort, aimed at spurring global attention and action to the challenges and opportunities girls face.
Angurai South Member of County Assembly Grace Olita noted that solutions must be found to deal with the disproportionate discrimination girls endure just because they are girls such as getting married at a tender age despite doing well in their studies and facing sexual abuse and exploitation
Olita urged female representatives in various counties to put into good use the Affirmative Action Fund to save such girls and protect them from any sort of damage and exploitation. She singled out the border towns of Busia and Malaba where track drivers are a menace to school girls.
“I urge our county woman representatives to support our girls using the Affirmative Action Fund. Parents should also be on the lookout so that their daughters do not fall into the trap of long distance truck drivers along the border towns of Busia and Malaba,” said Olita.
Busia County Coordinator for Children’s Services Esther Wasiye affirmed that the department has put the girl child at the heart of its development programmes. She reiterated that the department has accorded the girl child utmost protection by taking care of those who fall victims of torture and other social ills.
Wasiye cautioned against the increasing number of children who lack custody, saying there are over 150 cases which have so far been reported in the first quarter between June and September 2017.
She said the lost and found as well as orphaned and abandoned children cases are causing alarm. She urged parents to be more responsible on the matter of their children and provide them with much safer environments.
“My department has taken into custody children whose parents’ whereabouts we do not know. I urge families and relatives who have lost their children or do not know their whereabouts to come out and identify them,” said Wasiye.